Old School Should Stay There

Just finished Tobias Wolff’s Old School and I am extremely disappointed. I’m a huge fan of some of his other work, especially the short stories and his memoir This Boy’s Life but something about this (his first?) novel makes me want to drown myself. It was nothing but predictable, nostalgic self-indulgence. GROSS. And the worst part, I think, is that you could tell the “narrator” (really, the author, who speaks about the very same anomaly within Hemingway’s work) knew exactly what he was doing – the effect was intentional. What’s worse than being trapped in some old guy’s story, which you never asked to hear?

AMENDMENT: I actually found one thing in this book I enjoyed: one of the student’s views on poetry. It’s on page 40 of the hardcover edition and I completely agree:

“Rhyme is bullshit. Rhyme says that everything works out in the end. All harmony and order. When I see rhyme in a poem, I know I’m being lied to. Go ahead, laugh! It’s true – rhyme’s a completely bankrupt device. It’s just wishful thinking. Nostalgia.”


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